Daniel Suarez sure hopes so.
Suarez, the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race, is still looking for his first Cup series victory and his performance so far this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway shows it may very well be possible on Sunday.
The Memorial Day weekend event as produced seven first-time series winners, with Austin Dillon the most recent to accomplish the feat in 2017.
We’ve been running good. The car has been solid and fast most of the time.
Already this weekend, Suarez – the 2016 Xfinity Series champion – qualified sixth on Thursday night and posted the fastest average single-lap speeds in both of Saturday’s practice sessions.
“I think we have a very good chance. The No. 41 Ford Mustang has been pretty quick and a couple of days ago I felt like we had a pretty fast car, we just didn’t have the car driving comfortable enough,” Suarez said Saturday following final practice.
“Today has been kind of like the same, where we’ve been just trying to chase the car to make the car drive better, but the speed has been there, which is something good. The last couple of weeks I feel like we’ve been lacking a little bit of speed and a little bit of comfort with the car. I feel like right now we’re very close to having both.
“Right there at the end of last practice I was pretty happy with it. I felt like we needed just a little bit more, but I feel like we’re heading in the right direction.”
None of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers hasn’t visited Victory Lane yet this season in the Cup series, but all of them have shown plenty of speed.
Suarez’s consistent performance has particularly picked up of late. In the last eight races, he’s finished worse than 14th just once. He’s led laps at both Las Vegas and Dover.
Suarez, 27, said he feels his Charlotte car is one of the best he’s had this season.
“I feel like this year I’ve had some good race cars with an opportunity to finish in the top-five and top-10, but I feel like this car has been pretty solid. It’s fast and it’s not comfortable to drive 100 percent, but I don’t feel like anyone out there is comfortable right now,” he said.
“It’s been sunny and hot and slick and that makes things a little bit more difficult, but overall my team has been doing a very good job. We have a good piece and hopefully we can take advantage of it (Sunday).”
Suarez’s consistency already has him within the cutoff to make the playoffs by points, but a win would not only jump-start his career but also lock him into championship contention.
“I haven’t even looked at the championship standings in several weeks, but I will tell you that it’s way different. It’s a good feeling to know you’re in the playoffs and in the top 16,” he said. “We’ve been running good. The car has been solid and fast most of the time.
“I’m just very proud of my team. I feel like we have a good future ahead of us. We just have to keep working and keep learning and I know that victories will come.”